Ready4Air (Culinary Cues) | Beyond The Stew: Ireland Is A Destination For Foodies

ireland collage

May 15, 2015 | Posted in Culinary Cues | By

ireland collage

Clockwise from top left: View in the Connemara, Muckross House, Slea Head Dingle Peninsula, and Kylemore Abbey
All photos by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

 

By Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

When the sun shines (between rain showers) in Ireland, this destination clearly deserves its moniker “Emerald Isle.” The grass literally sparkles, Irish eyes twinkle, and every available patio chair is taken.

Ireland has long been attractive to golfers, gardeners, and Guinness lovers. Now, it is also a destination for global foodies who have recognized the exceptional blend of the local terroir and creative cuisine. With nine Michelin-starred restaurants in the Republic of Ireland, there is much more to the Irish food scene than traditional stew.

The Irish potato famine struck in the summer of 1845, triggered by a fungus that traveled from Mexico to Ireland. At harvest time, distraught farmers shed tears at the sight of Ireland’s primary food staple rotting in their fields. A planted acre of potatoes would typically feed a family for a year, making the choice of cultivating potatoes over grain an obvious one. These devastating scenes resulted in a human disaster in a country where the population’s diet was highly dependent on the starchy spuds.

It was a dark decade in Irish history. An estimated one million people died, and double that number emigrated to other countries around the world. Even today, it would be difficult to find a family in Ireland untouched in some manner by the potato famine. That may be the reason that the country is only now on the cusp of a food revolution.

“In the last 15 years, small artisanal producers have blossomed, and innovation in the food production sector has increased,” says Margaret Jeffares, founder of Good Food Ireland.

“Local is simply not good enough,” according to Ed Cooney, executive chef at Dublin’s five-star Merrion Hotel where he serves Irish artisanal products such as the hotel’s balsamic apple cider vinegar produced by Llewellyns Orchard.

Michelin-starred chef Ross Lewis, the owner of Chapter One restaurant in Dublin, says there was always a strong agricultural and industrial food scene in the country. However, there was no awareness (or interest) of how to make the best use of these primary products. Lewis feels that all began to change in the 1970s with a handful of pioneering producers.

The math is easy: Good food + great culture = tourists.

In the past few months, I have worked with Mary Baskin at the Vagabond International to develop the itinerary for a unique “Explore Ireland Tour” from September 26–October 3, 2015. The weeklong tour will take you from Dublin to the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW), the spectacular west coast of Ireland. Along the route, you will get a chance to experience some Irish culture, taste local artisanal foods, and enjoy the dazzling scenery.

The Explore Ireland Tour begins and ends in Dublin with the detailed itinerary for the trip available here. Book your trip now as there is limited spoke on this bespoke Explore Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way tour.

Related Post: Ready4Air (Culinary Cues) | Greece: A Destination For Foodies

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott, creative writer at Ginger and Nutmeg/Director of Perfectly Provence
Photo Credit: Andrew Abbott

With her camera and laptop nearby, Carolyne is living proof that there is no such thing as a single career anymore. She began her working life as an equity stock trader and then moved to commercial real estate and project management. She has entered the world of freelance writing and social media consulting. In 2010, Carolyne convinced her husband and Labrador that a few months in France would be fun–they stayed for 13 months. Currently, they split time between Southern France and Canmore in the Canadian Rockies. At home or on the road, she writes a food and travel blog, Ginger and Nutmeg. She recently launched a digital magazine focused on Provence called Perfectly Provence and has two travel apps available here

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Thanks, Carolyne!

Coming up: Ready4Air (TV) Was Ben Affleck wrong to ask PBS to keep his family secret?

Deborah J. Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell Media Associates – Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell Graphic – Design: Nay Ayache

Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on naydmma@gmail.com.  

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Ready4Air (Culinary Cues) | Saying Goodbye To Legendary Fries

A line outside of Pommes Frites in New York City.

April 17, 2015 | Posted in Culinary Cues | By

A line outside of Pommes Frites in New York City.

A line outside of Pommes Frites in New York City.
Pommes Frites” by bigbirdz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Chef Elle Simone

In my early days of being a newbie New Yorker, my Saturday nights (and possibly Mondays–Thursdays, as well) were filled with summer evenings exploring jam-packed bars and lounges. My crew and I would begin the night with our ritualistic trip to Pommes Frites–a restaurant that serves authentic Belgian fries–to, ya know, fuel up! We’d spend the entire walk there debating and discussing which aioli we loved, tried last week, were intimidated by, or must have. My favorite is the rosemary-garlic mayo. These times with my friends–these nights filled with life-changing, mayo-based–decisions have been an integral part of what has been the best time of my life, and it took a tragedy for me to realize it.

On March 26, New Yorkers’ worlds were rocked by the news of the devastating gas explosion and building collapse in the East Village, in which two lives were lost. Numerous buildings were damaged or destroyed, including the legendary Pommes Frites. Now, it’s highly possible that you live in another city and have never heard of their Belgian-style delicacy, so let’s get into the history of it all.

After traveling through Europe during college and later working in the European travel industry, founder/owner Suzanne Levinson decided to share her love of Belgian fries with New York City. She established Pommes Frites in 1997. The unique, double-frying process that produces a crispy fried exterior and a fluffy potato filling has left New Yorkers mesmerized. Foodies are devastated at the loss of a mainstay.

Related Post: Ready4Air (Culinary Cues) | Do You Prefer Beer Or Wine?

Brooklynite Lakeshia C. tells us about her Pommes Frite fetish, “I’m a true lover of fries but not so much of ketchup, so the mayo-based dips were always the most exciting part of that spot. Also, I could always eat on the go. I’ll miss that place.”

Will Pommes Frites resurrect, or will Levinson use this time to explore other culinary trends? Will Pommes just be a story of old for natives and veteran transplants? Who knows? What I do know is that if Pommes Frites doesn’t return to New York, it is very likely that I will be getting some new passport stamps from a wanderlust quest for fries of the Belgian variety. That leads me to a post about traveling, which I’ll get into later. Stay tuned!

Now, let’s get cooking,

Elle

Disclaimer: I want to express my deepest concern and sympathy to all the residents of the East Village and their families who are affected by the unfortunate series of events. This post is not in any way meant to ignore or trivialize the tragedy that has occurred.

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Thank you, Elle!

Chef Elle: Chef Coat by Chandler Timothy at Bobby Dale Images

Chef Elle: Chef Coat by Chandler Timothy at Bobby Dale Images

Elle Simone is a culinary maverick. Always drawn to creative food culture, Elle has been dazzling the culinary world since 2006, quickly becoming a highly sought-after freelance food stylist and culinary producer. Elle has collaborated with and contributed her unique styling abilities to Food Network, Food Network Magazine, The Cooking Channel, Katie, CBS Corporation, ABC’s The Chew, and Bravo’s Chef Roble and Co.

Elle’s specialties don’t stop with styling and production. As the creator of SheChef, Elle shares her passion for culinary arts by mentoring women within the industry and by sharing meals through The Cast Iron Supper Club. Through SheChef, Elle brings a holistic approach to culinary and media and its multitude of avenues, offering the following services: recipe testing, recipe development, cookbook editing/formatting, cooking lessons, and menu planning. With a focus on beautiful and tasty dishes, Elle transcends the traditional role of a chef, working to share her gift and tell a story through food.

You can find Chef Elle anywhere below:

Instagram: @Chef_Elle and @SheChefLLC
LinkedIn: Chef Elle
Website: SheChef.org
Coming up: Ready4Air (Film) Summer 2015 movies are for ladies and laughs
Deborah J. Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell Media Associates – Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell Graphic – Design: Nay Ayache

Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on naydmma@gmail.com.  

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Repost | #Foodie Friday: Picture-Perfect Food: Tips On Food Photography

A-plate-of-pasta-300x200

January 2, 2015 | Posted in Culinary Cues | By

 

With the incredible role that the Internet plays, imagery has become an even more integral part of the food world. When food photography used to be in books and on walls (admittedly, before my time!), it played a much more limited role. Cookbooks used to show carefully faked food photos: perfect and meticulously styled. Think about those 1950s cookbooks. Now, the trend is leaning toward a much more realistic feel.

When I first began food photography, this was already changing. With the Internet, the first time we “taste” a dish at a restaurant is by looking at pictures of the food. It’s our first impression and, very often, the deciding factor in whether we want to eat somewhere. Reviewers often spend a long time taking photos of every dish they eat, and bloggers love to upload pictures of food they create themselves. Our world has become saturated with food imagery.

For that reason, food photography has become more important than ever. While professionals use a lot of equipment, often in conjunction with a food stylist, there are a number of easy things that you can do to improve your own food photography, whether you use a cellphone or a dSLR. I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ve split them up by different phases of photo work.

Related Post: Foodie Friday: Picture Perfect

 Setting up the shot:

1. Keep your stuff clean.

This is a major detail that ruins an otherwise perfect food photo. You have to work clean because even a tiny smudge on a fork makes a difference in the photo. Since viewers are looking at a still image, they’ll catch every little thing in there. It doesn’t take much time to use a cheesecloth and a spritz of vodka to clean up a smear. An alcohol-based cleaner is better to use since it won’t leave streaks.

2. Find a large light source.

Light is one of the most important parts of food photography. If you don’t have fancy strobes, don’t worry. A large window will work just as well. The “clean” feeling you get from a lot of food photos is from a relatively large light source that softens shadows. If you want a bluer light, use the window in the morning. If you want a warmer/yellower light, try late afternoon or evening for an extremely golden light. Never use the pop-up flash.

3. Smooth over your process.

Make sure that there’s a clear path for the food to get in front of the camera, with a minimum amount of fuss. With many foods, you have a very limited time in which it looks fresh. Greens will wilt and cold things will melt, so you want to make sure that set up doesn’t take a long time.

4. If the shadows look too black, add a reflector.

If one side of the picture looks too dark, one way you can easily make the whole thing light up more is by using a reflector. You can use any white or reflective surface as a reflector: a white foamboard, a white shirt, a mirror, or a silvered surface. This is also a good way to get light over to a different area if you can’t set up right next to a window. Remember, light travels in straight lines.

5. If it’s still too dark, use a tripod.

The basic rule of exposure is that there are three factors involved. Generally speaking, if you don’t have a dSLR, you can’t control them. Still, there are ways you can work around this, and one of these ways is by keeping very still. If you don’t have enough light, put your camera on a tripod or lean your wrist against something to keep it very still. This works for dark restaurants, too.

Taking the shot:

 

 

Related Post: Foodie Friday: A Book Brings Food and Love To Life

1. Set your camera to macro mode or use a macro lens.

Food photography embraces close-ups of food. Even if you’re getting the whole dish, chances are it will be very close to your lens. Using macro mode on your camera (or a macro lens) will help you make this look way better. Not getting enough blur? Move closer to the window or use more light.

2. Study what other people do.

Take a look at your favorite food blogs and food photography. See what they do. This is great especially if you’re having trouble with deciding how to make a particular dish look good. Chances are, someone else has done it, too, so why not check out how they’ve done it? Then, you can try variations to decide what works best for you.

3. Shoot from sitting eye height.

Generally speaking, most food photos are taken from slightly above level, from where you would sit. This is the way most people see food, and are going to respond well to it. It’s a good, safe angle. Still, don’t be afraid to try something new. No one has to see it if it doesn’t turn out well.

4. Try a variety of compositions.

Don’t be afraid to get in close or zoom way out. Sometimes food can look radically different depending on how close you are. Try different distances to see what looks best to you. Oftentimes, if the food is textural, it will look more interesting up close. Fill the frame, whether it’s with the food itself, the plate, or the entire surrounding environment.

5. Try different photographing in different phases.

You don’t have to just show the food perfect out of the kitchen. You can also show it in various stages, whether that’s preparation or with a bite out of it. This gives the food context and shows viewers that yes, this is real food.

I hope that these tips were helpful! Remember, the best way to improve your photography is just to go out and do it.

 

Bio –Winnie Jeng is an NYC photographer with a specialization in food and fashion. She was first introduced to photography early in college, where she fell in love with both film and digital work. Now, she works hard with clients to produce commercial work, and likes to do her own photographic artwork in her spare time. Check out Winnie at www.winniejeng.com and follow her on Twitter @winniejeng

 

 

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Coming Up: Learning TV On The Fly 
Deborah J. Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell Media Associates – Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell Graphic – Design: Nay Ayache

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA). She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee. Deborah is Executive Producer of Arise On Screen a global and socially interactive movie review show. If you are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on naydmma@gmail.com.  

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Ready4Air (Culinary Cues) | Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: So Nice I Visited Twice

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

November 28, 2014 | Posted in Social TV | By

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!

I am back in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The last time, I was at Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection. The meals were fresh and filled with island flavor. So what’s on the menu for the holiday weekend?

Stay tuned…

Related Post: Ready4Air (Brands And Bloggers) | A Hotel Bumps It Up A Notch: From Grand To Luxurious (VIDEO)

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Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Photo credit: Debbie Mitchell & Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Don Pablo Collection Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell and Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda
Don Pablo Collection
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell and Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

 

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Coming Up: 
Deborah J. Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell Media Associates – Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell Graphic – Design: Nay Ayache

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA). She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee. Deborah is Executive Producer of Arise On Screen a global and socially interactive movie review show. If you are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on naydmma@gmail.com.  

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Foodie Friday: Cook & Go–A Meal Plus Desserts In 90 Minutes

Foodie

October 11, 2013 | Posted in Lifestyle Lineup (Food,Fashion,Travel,Books), Social TV | By

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

While the world of television is interesting and fun, this television producer needs to balance out her life. Friday is the perfect day for me to explore all the other things that make me happy. One of those things is food.

Last Thursday night I was invited by my two new friends, Josh and Michael, of Blue Polo Interactive–a digital branding agency based in NYC–to join a few other food bloggers for a night of cooking. It was an opportunity to cook a nice meal with a chef at Cook & Go a fully-equipped culinary space in Chelsea Manhattan. Since I love to cook, I was definitely interested but also had another committment that night. After moving a few things around, I figured out a way to make it work.

At 7:30 p.m., I joined a small group of foodies. Our mission was for each of us to prepare a four-course meal in 90 minutes. After putting on my apron, I was ready to get to work.

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

As a seasoned home cook, I felt pretty good about everything on the menu except the desserts. I told Chef Christina that I wasn’t much of a baker, and she told me not to worry since she was giving us specific cooking measurements and directions for every dish. Phew! Now, it was time to get cookin’.

The four courses included:

Panko-crusted chicken bites w/ apricot-mustard sauce
Ravioli with pumpkin sage cream sauce (vegetarian)
Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet
Maple-Apple Upside down cake

We began with dessert since it takes the longest to complete. Between the two desserts–Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet and Maple-Apple Upside Down Cake–we mixed flour, sugar, butter, baking soda, and baking flour. We sliced and diced granny apples and put maple syrup where necessary. Our chef was patient with us as we stopped to photograph our progress, chat with each other, and sip the wine that was given to us as part of the evening.

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet (Before) Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet (Before)
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Once our meal was done 90 minutes later, we had the choice of eating it there or taking it to go. Since the course is called Cook & Go, I followed directions, wrapped up my dessert and took it home. My Cook & Go dessert turned into breakfast in the morning, and it was delicious!

Cook & Go, I will definitely be back.

Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet (After) Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Chocolate Cranberry Tartlet (After)
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

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Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “ Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.

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Foodie Friday Is Back | The 2013 Vendy Awards For The Best In Food Truck Eats!

IMG_2207

September 27, 2013 | Posted in Lifestyle Lineup (Food,Fashion,Travel,Books), Social TV | By

 

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

When I’m not thinking or writing about television or social media I’m enjoying a few of my favorites things.  I’m entering my third year as a  member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee and have been using Fridays  as the day to post stories about my lifestyle treats and yes that includes all things food.

This morning I’ve invited fellow foodie and blogger Vicki Winters to launch Foodie Friday on our new blog space and what better way to start it off then with an award, not Emmys or Oscars, but Vendy Awards.

By Vicki Winters

As someone who has worked in the trenches as a food truck worker, I have to tell you how much I LOVE The Vendy Awards!

The Vendy Awards, now in its 9th year, is an opportunity to honor and recognize a group of truly hardworking and dedicated people, the street vendors.

Having worked on several food trucks, I know how difficult it is to be a street vendor.

The parking, the fighting, and that’s just on your own truck..just kidding.

If you have never had the pleasure of working on a food truck, and I doubt that anyone reading this has, here are a few things that you probably don’t know about the job:

  • There is nowhere to pee. You either have to hold it in for a long time, or find a place that will let you use their facilities.
  • Most trucks start the day at around 6a.m., and it ends close to midnight.
  • The pay isn’t all that great and there are no benefits. In the winter it is FREEZING, and it can be 100 degrees inside in the summertime. Pretty much because you are working inside a METAL BOX.
Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

The Vendy Awards are so much fun, and it’s not just because of how much food you can gorge yourself on. You also get the chance to see and eat from some of the trucks that you may have never heard of before.

After attendees sample the food offerings, they vote for their faves in six different categories. As the emcee for the day, Iranian-American social justice comedienne, Negin Farsad said, these awards are voted on by people with totally average taste buds. All except one. The coveted Vendy Cup.
Justin Warner and his adorable gal pal, Brooke Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Justin Warner and his adorable gal pal, Brooke
Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

The winning truck is chosen by a panel of more taste savvy judges, some of whom included Pat LaFrieda, La Frieda Meats, and Justin Warner, Do Or Dine, Brooklyn.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

For me the day was challenging. I wanted to eat everything, but I had already Pigged Out at Pig Island earlier in the day, so my belly was compromised. There was no way I could eat everything that was offered, so I decided to focus on the dessert trucks.

I managed to taste all of the dessert offerings except one:

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

 

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Cuencana Chilita:  The Ecuadorian women who own the business truly embody what the Vendy’s represent.  Immigrants who don’t speak English who had an interpreter with them, I would describe their dessert as a VERY, VERY, sweet and sticky, two-toned, whipped creamy substance on a cone. Not my favorite, but I kind of wanted them to win on principal.

Liddabit Sweets:  The women behind Liddabits caramels have ventured into the dessert world with butterscotch pudding topped with caramel popcorn. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD. They were careful to serve a small portion and I was thankful for that!

Odd Fellows Ice Cream Company:  Totally new to me, but will definitely be seeking them out going forward. I sampled the Corn Bread Ice Cream, which was SOOO GOOD.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Watermelon Mint Fruit Bar  Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Watermelon Mint Fruit Bar
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Pop It Baby:  Coolest.Truck.Ever.  A vintage Citroën H Van, serving up deliciously light frozen fruit bars. I had the Watermelon Mint. Not overly sweet, and very refreshing. Good news is that they have new products in the works, including SODA and BOOZE POPS.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Del’s NYC:  A tasty and light slushy in a cup. Del’s was created in Naples, Italy, in 1840, by Great Grandfather Deluca, and has evolved to serve the 21st century frozen lemonade from a cool old school truck.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Itizy – Winners of the dessert category, their giant aqua truck serves specialty organic ice cream, cake pops, and sorbets. I tried the vanilla, and was told that the team had searched high and low to find the PERFECT vanilla, from Madagascar.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

The Cinnamon Snail: They were a nominee for the Vendy Cup, but didn’t win. They did, however, take home a well deserved HERO award. At the end of the evening, they were handing out extra donuts. Although I was stuffed to the gills, I managed to scarf down one of the hazelnut chocolate vegan donuts… cause it was so freaking delicious!

Daniel, of course, got a few extras to take home.

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

Shout out to all 50 of the HERO AWARD winners, an award given to members of the NYC Food Truck Association who donated food to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the power outage days following the storm. A well deserved honor.

Vicki Winters Vendy Food Awards

Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Nuchas for accepting the Rookie Award with the most enthusiasm. If you had seen them on stage, you would have thought that they won a trip around the world.

Vicki Winters Vendy Food Awards

Helena Tubis, Managing Director, Vendy Awards Photo Credit: Vicki Winters

The Vendy Awards 2013, were held in an industrial park in Brooklyn. The food and music flowed freely as DJ Frosty was on hand, spinning some really great tunes, The vibe was outstanding. Big kudos to the Street Vendor Project’s Helena Tubis and Sean Basinski.

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The Street Vendor Project is a membership-based project with more than 1,500 active vendor members who are working together to create a vendors’ movement for permanent change.

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Thanks Vicki!  To read more about Vicki’s food adventures watch her on her blog The Vicki Winters Show and follow her on Twitter @mybigfatmouth.

Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “ Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com. 

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The Weeks Ahead | Deborah Mitchell Media Associates Keeps The Momentum Going

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

September 24, 2013 | Posted in Brands and Bloggers Connect, Social TV | By

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

The last year has been a whirlwind and I’ve been away from my company Deborah Mitchell Media Associates for way too long.  My absence was the result of my work with a startup blogger network, The Blogger Connection (TBC), which I co-founded and concentrated on from May 2012 to May 2013.  During that time,  I learned a lot about blogging and blogger outreach and  had the opportunity to meet a some amazing bloggers and brands.
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

While I’m no longer in partnership with TBC, I hope to work with their bloggers and other blogger networks again in the very near future.
On Air Image
Now that I’m back at Deborah Mitchell Media Associates full time, I plan to keep the connection going.  The website for Deborah Mitchell Media Associates is up and running. Take a little time to check it out.  While I’m still connecting traditionally and socially with all types of brands, a variety of online networks, personalities and mediums, I’m back to producing. Production projects include television shows, live events  and Social TV.  I spent the summer launching a socially interactive women’s talk show, “Our Take” on Arise TV. Our run was short but sweet.
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

During the past year my personal connections in media (Live! with Kelly and Michael), fashion (XSRE), and the food industry (The National Restaurant Association & Rustic Crust/American Flatbread) brought amazing opportunities to The Blogger Connection network resulting in effective, successful, and fun blogger outreach campaigns.   I’m always connecting with brands and television projects that want to establish relationships with amazing social media personalities.  I’ve also met many talented social media personalities who want to reach out to brands, appear on television or get media coaching.  Just so you know I’m happy to put everyone together.These types of outreach opportunities are presently available and there are many more on the horizon.  So, if you have a media kit and want to be featured, let me know. Just follow and tweet me @socialtvdeb or send an email to socialtvdeb@gmail.com. If you want to work on a project right now, I’m preparing three very different outreach opportunities and want to connect with bloggers who are a good fit.  This could be you! A good fit are bloggers in a network who coordinate outreach campaigns, host Twitter parties, are interested in being a brand ambassador and are able to attend events nationwide. It’s all about coming together and sharing the message.Our goal, whether it’s TV or social media, is to share your message with the world.
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Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

Photo Credit: Max Shuppert

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “ Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com. 

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How To Plate A Meal | Eating With Your Eyes | #FoodieFriday

March 1, 2013 | Posted in Social TV | By

How To Plate A Meal

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell (The Blogger Connection)

Today’s Foodie Friday is a simple question.  Do you eat with your eyes first? 

I was watching a cooking show the other day and the chef was showing viewers how to “plate” a low cost dish so it looks like a dish that would be served in a five star restaurant.  He went on to say “we eat food with our eyes before anything else, so how food looks on a plate is very important.”

How To Plate A Meal

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell (The Blogger Connection)

For the remainder of the segment, the chef went on to demonstrate and  give a few tips on food plating. If you are a fan of competition cooking shows, you often see chefs lose a challenge by seconds because they run out of time  trying to plate their dishes.  

The television chef went on to give the following food plating tips:

  • Serve food on a large white plate.  This allows you to see the food better.
  • Stack each food in a pile or tower on the dish.
  • If there is a sauce, pour the sauce over the food.
  • Wipe the plate clean of any drippings for a neat presentation.
How To Plate A Meal

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell (The Blogger Connection)

For the record, I have enjoyed my share of meals served in not so pretty plates however I do love a good “looking” meal.  Read more about food plating.

Do you enjoy a meal more when it is beautifully  plated ?

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To Bee Or Not To Bee: The Sweet,Sweet Taste Of Honey #FoodieFriday

February 22, 2013 | Posted in Social TV | By

 

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

“The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey…. And the only reason for making honey, is so as I can eat it”. – Winnie the Pooh

I’m pretty sure our favorite bear, Winnie the Pooh, wouldn’t know what to make of these beautiful sleek bottles of Bee Raw Honey. But I’m positive that after tasting the flavors including Blueberry, Orange Blossom, Buckwheat, Sweet Yellow Clover, Wild Black Sage, Wild Raspberry, Basswood, Cranberry, Sourwood, Star Thistle, Astor and Oregon Meadow foam honey, Pooh would be rolling around with his paws filled with gobs of honey not knowing which one to eat first.

Well, Bee Raw Honey isn’t your typical shelf supermarket honey.  The brand takes pride in its simple process and says that its pure natural  flavor and distinct color come straight from the beekeeper’s hive.  By skipping the processing phase, Bee Raw Honey retains its  naturalness  as well as the pollen that possesses immune-building properties. This pollen helps with allergies and soothes your scratchy throat and cough.  The varietal honeys are named after their single varietal honey source, so the orange blossom honey comes from an orange blossom and so on. Each varietal honey comes from beekeepers in different states and the brochure that comes with your purchase tells you the state where the beekeeper is located.

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

I have a very limited list of ways to use honey.  One way is as a sweetener for my tea or oatmeal.  Every now and then, I use it as a compliment to cheese.  Well it turns out I’ve been missing out on all the creative ways to use  honey (now keep it clean ladies.) LOL!  When I asked  TBC bloggers  “Who here loves honey? Do you have a favorite flavor honey, use it in recipes or just to sweeten your tea? How do you use honey? ” the answers started flowing in.  Some of you use honey to bake , as a waffle and pancake  topping instead of syrup, on your toast, in cereal and finally as a part of a beauty regimen.

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

Photo credit: Sam Yocum

Now curious about honey,  the Bee Raw Honey packaging was a draw for me and then I looked closer and was intrigued by the flavor variety.   I’m not much of a honey connousseuir but I enjoyed sampling the neatly packed vials of sweetness.    After finishing up two days of  jury duty this week, I came home out of  the cold weather and had a hot cup of tea sweetened with the raspberry flavored honey. I used one flight to sweeten a tall cup of tea and was amazed to see actual honey crystals that I could eat straight out of the flight that looks like a modern chemistry vial (easy to pour and perfect for travel).

All this natural goodness and quality does not come cheap. A full jar can go from $12 to $15.  The collection is available  as full-size jars, innovative honey flights,  and delectable honey gifts .  Bee Raw is branching out and has added  loose teas to their collection as well as offering amazing recipes with honey on their website.  It’s worth checking out. You can find Bee Raw on Facebook, follow updates on Twitter, and check out the Bee Raw Blog, The Buzz.  You can buy Bee Raw products at www.beeraw.com and at the finest retail stores nationwide.

If you want to try a full jar bottle of Bee Raw Honey  The Blogger Connection is giving one away. The first person to tell us which flavor Bee Raw honey comes from California will get a bottle for the recipe below. Send me the answer with your name and mailing address to  deb@thebloggerconnection.com  (we have a winner!)

Ameriteranian Salad

Different cuisines and their ingredients constantly inspire me. Sometimes the blend of two cuisines come together to form something new. In this case, classic Mediterranean ingredients, such as figs, arugula and fresh goat cheese mingle with those of homey Americana: bacon, honey roasted peanuts and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Arugula
  • ½ cup honey roasted peanuts very coarsely chopped
  • 12 ripe figs
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese
  • Bacon cut into 1 inch pieces and cooked until crisp

For Vinaigrette

  • 1tsp California (Wild Black Sage)
  • 1tbls Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients for vinaigrette in a large salad bowl. Add Arugula, peanuts and bacon and toss well. Serve on salad plates garnished with Figs and goat cheese crumbled or sliced

 

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So You Want To Be On TV: A Food Blogger Talks About Cooking and Competing On TV

December 18, 2012 | Posted in Lifestyle Lineup (Food,Fashion,Travel,Books), Social TV, TV Production | By

Martie-Tuna-Noodle-Casserole-Food-Network-Star

Martie-Tuna-Noodle-Casserole-Food-Network-Star

As a television producer,  I’ve had guests tell me after appearing on television that the experience was not what they expected.  Martie Duncan (@MARTIEparty) was your experience on the  cooking competition show Food Network Star Season 8  all that you imagined it would be?

I suppose it was more or less what I imagined… a lot less glamorous and longer hours than I imagined but it was awesome.

Would  you do it again?

Of course. I’d do it right now. When can we start?

Tell us the best and worst part of competing on a cooking TV show? 

The lessons. In a short time period, you learn so many lessons. Not just about cooking but about yourself and life. The worst part? No privacy at all and having to sleep on a flimsy bunk bed – on the top bunk I might add.

martie-duncan-food-network

martie-duncan-food-network

You kept a Food Network Journal during the show.  When you look back at your notes, how have you grown as a chef and a television personality?

I did keep a journal- as a writer and blogger without a computer, that was my therapy and a way to keep track of what happened each day so I could go back and review what was said. I’ve most certainly grown and changed…  I’m better organized in the kitchen than I used to be- meaning that I will have everything I need organized and out, measured, etc before I start cooking. I never did that before the show. Watching the pros organize before they cook, it does trim off a lot of time! As far as being a television personality, I would guess I’ve become more confident- the fact that I never went to culinary school or have no training does not worry me nearly as much. I saw people with lots of formal training make lots of mistakes under pressure. It happens:)

Your team leader was Chef Alton Brown, what valuable tips did he give you during your time on Team Alton?

Since Alton is known as the most knowledgeable person on food television, I thought I’d gain a lot of valuable cooking tips from him and that was the main reason I wanted to be on his team. During the show, his advice was more towards the presentation side of things. He gave me a lot of advice about keeping my comments concise and on point. Now, that does not mean I can do that every time- old habits die hard- but I’m trying.

If you had a chance to work with another team leader who would you choose and why?

I’d love the chance to work with Bobby Flay. I really like him. During Food Network Star, I found him to be a tough competitor but generous with his advice to his team. When I saw him recently at a show we did together in Dallas, we were able to talk a bit. I think I’d really like working with him; he’s so smart, such a professional, very determined and encouraged me to keep going. He also has a production company which produces quite a few shows for Food Network.
Martie's Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Food Network Star

Martie’s Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Food Network Star

Which judge were you most excited and nervous about cooking a meal for and why?

I wasn’t more nervous about one more than another. Alton was certainly my toughest critic so he made me the most nervous. I was very anxious to do a good job for him and for my team for every challenge. I was really excited when Guy Fieri and Paula Deen were on the show. I’d met Guy before so that was fun and Paula is an iconic Southern “steel magnolia” who inspires me every day.

On Food Network Star, Season 8  you and your fellow chefs were competing against each other.  Martie, now that the show is over, are you friends with any of the other chefs?

Yes, we all wanted to win, of course… but I’d say for the most part, we all really were supportive of each other, too. We are friends. You cannot go through something like that and not become friends for life. I keep in contact with some more than others but always excited about what is happening for each of them. I just did an event with Michele, Linkie, Nikki and Emily, in Gulf Shores, Alabama for the big Oyster Cook Off… they were rock stars! And we had such a good time… I really miss working with them. I talk to Judson on a regular basis and Justin and I text and tweet frequently.
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Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement, follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.

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#Foodie Friday: Food Blogger Martie Duncan Competed Like A Champ!

November 30, 2012 | Posted in Culinary Cues, Lifestyle Lineup (Food,Fashion,Travel,Books), Social TV, TV Production | By

FNS8_Finalist-Gallery-Martie-Duncan_

Food blogger Martie Duncan (@MARTIEparty) competed like a champ during the 8th season of Food Network Star, so much so that she ended up being a finalist.  But despite fan support and tutoring from  her team leader , Chef Alton Brown, Martie did not win the cooking competition show.   When we first interviewed Martie  she was seven weeks into the competition. Now that it’s over, Martie tells us about  life after reality TV.

You didn’t win the title of next Food Network Star, life is different today?  What has changed for you since the competition show ended?

Well, I have learned NOT to go out in public without pulling myself together! Every single time I go out without makeup, I will meet a fan with a camera!! I hate to look like I just rolled out of bed and you know those end up on Facebook so everyone can see:)

In a surprising show twist, you and Justin were both asked to shoot show pilots.   Were you happy with your pilot, Martie With The Party and would you do anything different today?

Well, frankly, that was not the show I would want to produce for Food Network. I have at least 10 show ideas…. and none of them resemble what you saw but with the limited time and budget, that is the pilot that was produced. Yes, I would do it very differently and stick up for the concept I really wanted to do.  couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to Martie or Justin after the promos — and in the end, he didn’t have to. In a shocking twist, Bob and Susie asked both remaining members of Team Alton to shoot pilots.

Martie Duncan, Food Network Star Season 8

Every Chef has a fan base. Tell us  a little bit about your fans and what can of support they’ve given you over the last few months.

I am the luckiest person in the world- I have the best fans!! Truly! I have met them over the years and they are always there for me. Most are people like me- the party-throwers. You know, the people in your life who always throw the parties or host the holidays at their house? We are those people who love to “do” for others. And during Food Network Star, my fans and friends really pulled out all of the stops to get the vote out. They have sent Bob Tuschman from Food Network many letters. They always show up at our events. They are the reason I do what I do- I am so grateful for their support and faith in me.

What’s next for Martie Duncan?

Everything! I’m working on several big food events for next year including another tour of Alabama for Alabama Restaurant Week 2013. A book. Some products. A new endorsement deal to be announced soon. My blog… I’ve not had a moment to write in months. And of course, a concept for TV.

Finally, Salty or Sweet?

SAAWWEEET! I will skip food and have dessert first!
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Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement, follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.

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Foodie Friday: A Sandwich Showdown-Vicki Votes For Her Favorite Sandwich

October 19, 2012 | Posted in Social TV | By

NYC Wine and Food Festival Sandwich Showdown with Jeff Mauro
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

With my coveted ticket to Jeff Mauro’s “Sandwich Showdown” in hand, I was pumped with excitement and trepidation. The New York City Wine and Food Festival was underway and I was about to partake. Two of my favorite things in the world were in abundant supply in this event space the size of an entire city block and I was stoked for a fattening, good time.

Vicki Winters and Debbie Mitchell, 2012 NYCWFF Sandwich Showdown
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

Along with my friend and fellow blogger, Debbie Mitchell (The Blogger Connection), we were armed and ready for this sandwich showdown. Everywhere we turned there were amazing chefs preparing fantastic plates, overflowing with different types of foods slapped between two slices of bread.  Meats, cheese, vegetables, lobster and more. There were hoagies, heros, grilled panini too. All I knew was that I was ready to rumble, and I was going to get my money’s worth.

Pastrami from Kutcher’s Tribeca, NYCWFF Sandwich Showdown
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Pastrami from Kutcher’s, Bahn Mi from Num pang, Grilled Cheese from Little Muenster, and even something called a thanksgiving sandwich present by Whole Foods. I was in heaven.

Udi’s Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwich , NYCWFF Sandwich Showdown
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

As if that wasn’t enough, there were ice cream sandwiches, Udi’s Gluten free ones! My two favorite foods in the world. Sandwiches and ice creams sandwiches. What could be better?
The voice inside my head said “Try them all, the ticket was expensive, the chefs all worked so hard”, but my pants were beginning to burst at the seams.

VOTE HERE Sandwich Showdown with Jeff Mauro, NYCWFF
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

Since it was a sandwich showdown, the attendees were asked to vote to choose the winner. Thus, it would also be unfair of me to vote for one without sampling them all. What’s a girl to do?

What’s a girl to do? NYCWFF Sandwich Showdown
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

How could I vote  unless I tried them all 15 of the sandwiches in the competition? Try as I might, I think I tried at least 9 or 10. Go ahead, call me a pig. I don’t care!

Marble Lane’s Kobe Beef Patty Melt
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

After 2 hours of gluttony and a little bit of chatting. I was ready to cast my vote. The majority of the crowd chose Marble Lane’s Kobe Beef Patty Melt, and I agreed, it was beyond delicious but a TEENY bit too salty for me. I gave my vote to Nam Pang’s Bahn Mi and Little Muenster’s Porcini Grilled Cheese with a side of Tomato Sauce.

Vicki Winters and Nam Pang’s Bahn Mi
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

Little Muenster Fancy Grilled Cheese
Greatest. Grilled. Cheese. Ever.
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

I was so stuffed that I couldn’t eat one more bite, and as I walked past Chef Ben from Luke’s lobster, his outstretched hand had a lobster roll in it, seemingly with my name on it. How could I pass up a free lobster roll? Right?

Chef Ben and his enticing Lobster Roll, Luke’s Lobster
Photo courtesy Vicki Winters

I began the weekend at my fighting weight of 123 pounds and my jeans were fitting very comfortably. The next day, my scale tipped over the 125 pound mark and I couldn’t zip my favorite jeans.

 Thank you Whole Foods, Food Network, and of course all of the chefs for your devotion and delicious meals. I’ll just have to put on a few extra miles on my bike this week. I will say this, this Sandwich Showdown was worth every dollar and every calorie.
I’m looking forward to next year!
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Take a minute to leave a comment and tell us your favorite sandwich.
 Meet Vicki Winters- Everyone who knows me, is aware that I am not shy about giving my opinion. Nor do I show any restraint when it comes to telling people how they can do things better. I’m an expert at that!  My views are offered, even when not asked for, and because of this, I have become known as @MyBigFatMouth. Watch out, I’m brutally honest, but who would want it any other way? As a Blogger, this can be a good thing because companies like to dole out items for us to review and then we can blab about them. I am here to facilitate that goal! Some of my favorites have been reviewed on my site, The Vicki Winters Show,and I will continue to share my opinions.

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Awards, A Book and Another Season of Chopped…It’s Been A Banner Year For Ted Allen (VIDEO)

September 4, 2012 | Posted in Social TV | By

The 2012 Chefs & Champagne honorees with James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro at the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne New York July 21, 2012. (Photo by Mark Von Holden)

Host Ted Allen and the judges of Food Network’s Chopped were in great spirits in this photo since they were being honored at this year’s annual James Beard Foundation Chefs & Champagne event.  The day was beautiful, food was plentiful, wine and champagne was flowing. Every year, the culinary fundraiser is in the Hamptons on New York’s East End of Long Island where it honors a noted chef. A group of talented chefs, several from JBF award winning restaurants, gather under a huge tent on the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, N.Y. There they prepare bite sized tasting portions and champagne flutes remain filled compliments of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte.

Ted Allen (middle) Honoree at JBF Chefs & Champagne 2012
Photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell

We caught up with Allen who was full of fun, gracious and happy to talk about his extraordinary year with the James Beard Foundation. Allen being honored at Chefs & Champagne this summer came on the heels of his winning the Best Media Personality and his show Chopped winning Best Television Program at the James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Awards in May. To top it off his latest book, In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks was recently released.

The new season of Food Network’s Chopped begins on Tuesday, September 4.  The show airs tonight at 10pm EST and regularly on Tuesdays at 10pm.   In his interview with me, Allen shares a little bit about his amazing summer, his new book and what ‘s in store for this season of the cooking competition show.  Again, congratulations Ted Allen!

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Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “ Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.

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Foodie Friday: TV Cooking and Competing

June 22, 2012 | Posted in Brands and Bloggers Connect, Lifestyle Lineup (Food,Fashion,Travel,Books), Social TV, TV Production | By

This week’s Foodie Friday takes a look at cooking and competing. I am a huge fan of cooking competition shows, so when I heard about Martie Duncan (@MARTIEparty) competing on this season’s Food Network Star I was intrigued.

When the show premiered in May there were 15 cooks competing for the top prize to have their own show on the Food Network.  Duncan, a home cook, party thrower and food blogger who has no professional training or restaurant experience is one of 15 competing against a gang of trained chefs for the title of Food Network Star.

Martie is seven weeks into the season 8 competition and things are heating up.  First, let’s take a look at the fearless home cook who got picked for the competition.

Did you ever imagine you would get this far?

”Yes, I did. I would never have agreed to do the show if I did not think I had a chance to win. I knew going in that cooking under pressure would be my biggest challenge. I knew the restaurant chefs and culinary school grads would have an advantage over me. As a home cook, I don’t cook fast or under pressure; I take my time and really enjoy the process. However, most chefs don’t do a wide variety of food-they specialize. I make everything from cocktails to desserts for my blog. And the show is called Food Network Star not Food Network Chef… in the past, several home cooks has won. The judging is 50% cooking skills and 50% presentation and personality. I weighed the options and felt I had a unique skill set of both cooking and on-camera skills and that gave me the confidence to go ahead and go for it. I’ve had to fight my way up from the bottom several times but I’m still in it!’ 

Martie’s Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Food Network Star

Martie’s Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Food Network Star

How did you learn to cook?

‘”Well, I am not a chef. I am a home cook and I’m a food blogger… but more than that, I am a party-thrower. I always have loved to entertain and have always cooked for parties and holidays. My mom was an amazing cook and I learned a lot from her. I also have several friends who are outstanding cooks. We’ve collaborated on dishes over the years- especially for a party or special occasion. I’d say I’m self taught but really so many people have contributed to my knowledge of food and cooking, especially all of the great restaurant chefs we have back home in Birmingham, Alabama. I eat out several times per week and then go home and replicate their dishes with my own spin on them.”

This is your first cooking competition show. What has been the biggest surprise about the competition?

“Hahaha- there were tons of surprises. The producers like to throw as many curve balls as possible at you to see how you will react under pressure. A Food Network Star faces many different challenges so they test you at every turn. For me, the biggest surprise was the vast difference in commercial grade appliances and equipment versus what I use at home. Each different set had different appliances and trying to learn them in the middle of a competition would eat up a lot of my time. Since I had never cooked in a commercial kitchen, I had NO idea there would be such a huge learning curve.  Cooking at the speed that you need too was also a challenge. It is very different from working in your own kitchen where you know where everything is and how everything works. Your survival instinct kicks in and you figure it out and do what needs to be done. “

Martie Tuna Noodle Casserole  Food Network Star

Martie Tuna Noodle Casserole Food Network Star

When it comes to competing in a cooking show, what do you keep in mind while preparing the foods?

“I think there are three things that are key: cook what you know, stay organized, and use more flavor (spices, herbs, salt, etc) than you typically would think to use. The judges have eaten a lot of incredible food. You have to bring big flavor to compete. For parties, I usually try to keep my flavors in the middle of the road to keep everyone happy. On a competition show, you cannot do that.”

The chefs are broken up into teams of (5) with a  chef mentor, a new format for this season.  The mentors choose their team members. The winner of the competition will continue to work with their mentor who will be a producer on their new show. The mentors are Chef Bobby Flay,  Chef  Giada De Laurentiis, and Chef Alton Brown.   Bobby Flay says he picked the (5) best that he thought could cook.  My feeling is if you can cook, I can teach them how to do television.   Giada De Laurentiis says At the end of day we are selling a product. You can be the best cook in America if you can’t sell your goods nobody is going to care.  Alton Brown says he was looking for something interesting in their personalities, and his team had something sticky in their personalities.

Martie, how did you get chosen for the show?

“I saw an open casting call notice on FoodNetwork.com last summer. I jumped in my car the next day and drove to Chicago to audition. That began a long process of call-backs, auditions, interviews, questions, etc that culminated in a final audition with Alton Brown at his studio in Atlanta. He selected me for his team of 5. It was all very secretive and confidential until the cast announcement was made.” 

When Alton told her she was chosen for his team, Martie says “I jumped up and down and did a little happy dance.”

Martie said Brown told his team that he was looking for people who could be teachers and authentic in their motivation to be on Food Network Star.

He asked me why I wanted to do it. I told him, “I was looking for a platform to do some of the things that I want to do. I want to get the word out that cooking at home is a lost pleasure.  Holidays are just an excuse to eat. Some of my best memories were tied to cooking and eating. That has been lost; people are so caught up in entertaining and cooking perfectly. I want to give people peace and stop them from being intimated by cooking. Do what you like and make those memories at home and get over the fear of entertaining.”

If you could have been on another team, which mentor would you have chosen?

“I was perfectly suited for my team. Our team was a bit weird and quirky. We worked well together and everyone was very generous to each other. I would have struggled on the other teams. The restaurant chefs would have found my lack of restaurant experience frustrating.”

One viewer did not agree with the elimination choice in one episode and left this comment on the website  “…….Martie should have gone before Judson……..”  How do you respond to folks who think you should have been gone by now?

“There was a head to head show down in episode 5 at elimination between Judson and I and the judges sent Judson home.  When you know you are on the chopping block and a step away from going home it is pretty brutal.  My brand and point of view was well established and I think that helped me stay.”

Who do you consider your biggest competitor on the show?

“Well, there is nobody who does what I do on the show. My point of view is easy, affordable entertaining. I want to help people become excited about entertaining at home again- to make memories with family and friends. That said, everyone on the show has a unique point of view… and there can be only one winner. If you are asking me who I’d vote for if I were not on the show, I’d have to say my Team Alton teammate Justin Warner. Now, I probably won’t be serving Justin’s Fish Skeletons at a party any time soon, but I just love how his mind works.” 

FoodNetwork will announce the top three finalists on July 15th and in another new show twist,  America must vote for their choice of the top three.  After the show airs on the 15th viewers can VOTE on FoodNetwork.com.  So VOTE!!!  The winner will be announced in a reunion show in New York on July 22.

Leave a comment and tell me who your favorite homecook is?

Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

Photo Credit: Joan Massel Soncini

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee.  If you are interested in “ Book Case TV” or are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell@SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.

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